Free for Me, not Thee


The rapid-fire spread of free tabloid newspapers in urban and even suburban areas over the last five years has marked the first significant American growth in daily-newspaper titles in a half-century. Inevitably, dominant newspaper companies are beginning to snap up the scrappy locals. Just as inevitably, perhaps, the Justice Department is threatening anti-trust action.

Which, in actually competitive newspaper markets like Boston (where the New York Times is buying 49% of the Boston Metro), strikes me as insane. According to this logic, it's OK for the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post to launch their own youth-oriented tabloids; but heaven forbid that another major paper would be so anti-competitive as to buy one. Nothing like handcuffing the likeliest potential buyers to keep independent new outlets from starting up in the first place.